Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raising and growing protein

Protein is crucial for a healthy diet, but it can come from several sources:  poultry, beans and legumes, fish, beef, etc.  'Protein' and 'meat' are often equated; we often don't know how much we really need every day and as a consequence either don't eat what we need or eat too much.

According to a revision of the USDA food pyramid based on food science</a> and not input from food producers (who just might be a wee bit...biased? shall we say?) from the Harvard School of Public Health, red meat is something to use sparingly, along with butter and refined grains, potatoes and sugar.  The benefits of that are multiple as far as health goes, but as far as being able to supply protein for your diet PSHTF, it also means it's a lot easier to acquire protein.

Beans and legumes, plus amaranth, quinoa and other whole grains are excellent ways to incorporate vegetable protein into the diet.  These, along with poultry and fish, can all be grown or raised at home. 

Another advantage to growing beans, etc., is that if you can't grow wheat due to your climate, you can still grow the makings for bread.  You'd need to look for gluten free recipes and their ingredients; a good number of the GF recipes out there call for things like a mix of garbanzo and fava bean flours.

If you can also feed chickens and other livestock from things you grow, you reduce the cost of feed and increase your self-sufficiency that much more.

When you cook, try using meat (beef, chicken, etc.) more like a condiment than a main part of the meal.  If you look at Asian cuisines, frequently vegetables outweigh meat by a considerable amount and that's healthier for you on the whole.  You don't need to become a vegetarian overnight to gain the benefits of reducing red meat intake and increasing other sources of protein, fiber and vitamins in its place.

Another trick to use is to combine proteins.  Check out 'Diet for a Small Planet' and 'Recipes for a Small Planet' for ideas and recipes.